Video games aren't that good at friends. Oh sure, they can be great for making them. Various multiplayer games have facilitated very real and valid friendships, but the games themselves scarcely contain an ounce of the same stuff in their characters. Bonds of friendship in-game are generally left to barks and grunts of command. Vermintide 2, despite taking place in the grimmest, darkest fantasy land there is, somehow manages the impossible and gives us a party of unlikely heroes whose bond feels terribly sincere.
Vermintide 2 does a great job of forcing players to work together no matter which hero you choose to play as. No weapon or class reigns supreme and only a combination will see you survive the hordes of rat-men. This isn't the first co-op game to, well, encourage cooperation. What makes it special though, what makes it so memorable and pleasant on every visit is the banter between characters.
In the fiction of Warhammer pretty much all these characters should be at odds with each other, forced only by circumstance to work together. The first game saw them working out the kinks in their relationship, but this sequel shows them having bonded, veterans of the perpetual apocalypse. Snarky remarks and in-jokes linger, they rib each other plenty as all good friends do. Equally though, they constantly throw compliments to each other. Hearing "Look at the elf go!" from the party's witch as you tear into a horde of baddies is the sincere encouragement that puts a little smile on your face.
Their personalities are pitch-perfect, and huge praise really has to go to the wonderful voice actors (Tim Bentinck, Bethan Dickson Bate, Dan Mersh, Alix Wilton Regan and David Rintoul) who have done such a terrific job. No matter the daft fantasy lines, they're delivered passionately and authentically. Even someone like me, who's not much of a Warhammer fan, will soon find themselves spitting out a dwarvish word here, an elvish insult there.
That perhaps sounds superficial but this layer of kinship over a strong cooperative action game elevates Vermintide 2. This isn't just a bunch of classes and perks to be picked on merit. There is personality here. A session of Vermintide 2 is chaotic and challenging but also a bit like a nice warm blanket. These are old mates out on their next adventure. They'll struggle, mistakes will be made but they're still going to carry each other to the finish line. Baking that sense of camaraderie into the game itself means it's not just on good friends to make that co-op session feel friendly. Play with strangers online and you'll find people to be kind and supportive, a rarity in online gaming. I put that down to the good vibes of Vermintide 2's cast.
Other multiplayer games take note. You don't have to chuck out the violence or gore, the nasty monsters or loot. Just put some warmth into your game, something nice and friendly. See if that doesn't make a difference. It's a change more games could definitely do with.